The Parvenu Exposes Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers

The Parvenu Exposes Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers


The Parvenu’s first victim is Halifax’s Ben Caplan, a bourbon-soaked folk lord who is filled to the brim with raspy charisma. The official name of the band is Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers, but without Benny, the smokers are nothing. No matter if it is categorized as a wandering gypsy style or pure insanity, it is certainly genius.

The band’s album, In the Time of Great Remembering,  came out about a whole year ago and contains four songs of pure enthusiasm. Listening to the songs you can imagine this massive bearded, Russian sounding man of a singer who lays his nonsensical, michevious lyrics on the tracks. The album’s four good songs leave the other six unheard by default. His powerful lyrics fuse great manhood along with romance, which combined with his passionate, growling voice creates a masterpiece. Constantly swapping between a banjo, guitar, and a piano gives Caplan a raging stage presence that can be felt through a computer screen.

The most noteable songs featured on this sultry album are, Beautiful, Down to the River, Bang to Break the Drum, and Stranger where Ben sings his long, red beard off. As I stumble upon exactly what words to use to describe the songs, it seems I’ve either run out of descriptive adjectives, or there are just no words to describe these wondrous songs. These specific tracks are not the usual slow-paced, harp-laced songs the new folk genre is currently into —  it’s more of a blue-grass-soul-like collection that cannot be matched by any other.

Telling you exactly which of the four is my favorite is probably harder than picking out the perfect adjective to describe big, ‘ole Benny. It all depends on the mood you’re in. If you are in a setting where vehemently bobbing and swaying your head while practicing your growls is normal, then Stranger would be ideal. And if you are caught in a situation that requires some seducing, Beautiful is the perfect background music– if this person finds powerful, folk ballads seductive. Down to the River is more of a song with lyrics for the retired story teller who has run out of ideas for his local library’s public speaking day, and if this story teller could be seen mentally walking down the streets talking to himself, then Bang to Break the Drum would also suit him.

As I shamelessly stalk Ben Caplan on both Twitter and Instagram, I’ve come to the realization that seeing him live is nearly hopeless, that is, if you’re a citizen of the United States. So, only recorded live performances online can give me a taste of what this beast of a man could do on stage. Ben Caplan’s voice is the combination of the growling rage of Ivan the Terrible and the melodic, sultry deep voice of Ivan the Great, but this could be completely false, as this is only my imagination of what these historical rulers of Russia sound like, and also up for debate is the point as to whether or not Ben Caplan is actually Russian. Either way, Ben Caplan is a burly, heavily bearded, growling singer whose lyrics are stories that are sung to perfection.


Ben Caplan performing Stranger: